LGBTQ Women and Aging

February 17, 2017

  • “The Changer and the Changed”
  • Audre Lorde
  • Holly Near
  • MichFest
  • Softball leagues
  • Women’s bars
  • bell hooks
  • Women’s bookstores
  • Rubyfruit Jungle
  • Dykes on Bikes
  • Olivia Records
  • Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • Stone Butch Blues
  • Kate Bornstein
  • The Lavender Menace
  • “Desert Hearts”

Any of those sound familiar to you?

If so, I’m betting you are a woman who identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) and came of age – and came out – sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, plus or minus half a decade.

And that means you are likely somewhere in your mid-50s to mid-70s, am I right?

I’m 53; my wife is 65. I’ve worked at Iona now for more than three years and I see every day what it means when people face the challenges of aging. Sure, there are opportunities – many of them – but it’s short-sighted to pretend that money, housing, illness, social isolation, and other problems aren’t real.

There’s been a fair amount written about the unique histories and needs of older LGBTQ folks, including this good summary published by my colleague at Iona, Leland Kiang, who runs Iona’s Information & Referral Helpline.

However, I have hope! I know that with early-on attention to these matters, some crises can be averted. While every LGBTQ woman has her own experiences, there are some commonalities that come to the fore when planning for retirement and post-retirement. There’s also lots of evidence that reducing social isolation has important health benefits.

With all this in mind, I’m proud to tell you that Iona is offering our first-ever Take Charge/Age Well Academy class for older women who identify as LGBTQ. It will meet four Thursdays from 5-7 PM in March (9, 16, 23, and 31) at Iona’s office in Tenleytown (42nd and Albemarle Streets NW). I will be facilitating the program, along with Alayna Waldrum, Coordinator of the Senior Advisory Coalition hosted by Iona. We are both lesbians, and some of our presenters are also members of the LGBTQ community; others are just wonderful allies.

In four sessions, we will explore:

  • A roadmap to aging well (an ice-breaking, interactive session about the factors that contribute to aging well –and not so well)
  • Advance planning (wills, powers of attorney, healthcare documents)
  • Aging in place (i.e., can I remain living where I’m living?)
  • Healthy living and health advocacy (cancer detection, self-advocacy)

The class will be intentionally small so that good conversations and connections can develop. I hope that you will join us.

Register now online and save $15. Questions? Contact me at (202) 895-9401 or

And please help us spread the word about this class by sharing this blog post with friends.

By Susan A. Messina

Susan is Iona’s Director of Development and Communications. She holds three master’s degrees, including two from Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.

2 thoughts on “LGBTQ Women and Aging”

  1. Is the woman that you call Audre Lord, the same one that I know as the poet/ philosoper and activist Audre Lorde? Just curious

Comments are closed.